Sunday, August 7, 2011

Blast From The Past - My First AD&D Character

Before this blog goes 'blue' on Monday, I thought I would take a moment and mention my first experience creating a character for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition.

First a bit of set up...

My introduction to AD&D was, let's say, haphazard. I was already playing the Basic game for a while before I received my own copy of it as a birthday present. Prior to that I was borrowing the rules and such from friends. Not long after receiving the Basic D&D box set (Moldvay edition I think), another relative, my Grandmother I believe, bought me the original Monster Manual, seeing as how I was very interested in the Dungeons & Dragons game. Grandma didn't know that the Monster Manual was for Advanced D&D. And neither did I.

As a matter of fact, since the Monster Manual was the first AD&D game book published, I don't think I even knew there was such a thing as 'Advanced' Dungeons & Dragons. Between adapting houserules to Basic to allow for further level increases and the addition of monsters from the Monster Manual, my friends and I already had the game we wanted to play...or so we thought.

At some point I was GMing my Basic (mostly - Basic Plus?) D&D game at camp when a slightly older boy asked if I'd played Advanced yet. Actually, it was more like, "Why are you still playing Basic? Haven't you tried Advanced?"

The answer of course was no. I had not. As such, he invited me to a game of it with a bunch of his friends. Now these were friends of his who I didn't know and who, it turned out, were about a year or two older than me.

The fellow who invited me to the game, Andrew, lent me his AD&D Player's Handbook (something friends did regularly but acquaintances did very rarely) so I could make a character. I didn't want to disappoint him or his older and obviously (in my mind) more experienced friends, so I read the thing cover to cover and then re-read the important parts needed to generate my character.

I remember that I was not so much floored by the differences between AD&D and Basic but instead had thoughts along the lines of, "Hmmm. I get that. That makes sense." I especially liked the idea of Race and Class being separate. Other elements struck me as quite silly however. Elves live like 10 times longer than Humans but are limited in level as Magic Users. Elves?!

I decided to play an Elven Fighter/Magic User (my first and really only ever) and noted all the special abilities from noticing secret doors to infravision to whatever else I could. I rolled particularly well for Intelligence and about average to good for everything else. I was armed with a sword and a bow and arrow because Elves received bonuses for those and those weapons are always 'Elfy'. Armor was leather I believe. I don't remember much else.

When I arrived at the game and met the group, they seemed like a nice enough bunch of guys, though in retrospect I think they weren't overjoyed to have a new player at their table and a younger one at that. It was pretty evident once the game started.

First, the GM scrutinized my PC, citing several points where he felt I didn't generate him correctly. Some of these were legitimate parts of the rules I missed or misunderstood. Other elements were houserules (or more accurate house rulings on certain unclear areas).

All in all it was a pretty crappy experience, as the group (except for Andrew) made fun of the newbie and his 'overpowered' character. Yes, they thought me to be a bit of a power gamer and a munchkin, even though I had done nothing more then make up a character using the rules given.

We played a short adventure but I can't remember anything about it. Andrew's Mom noticed a bit of tension in the air and saved the day with some well timed refreshments as only a Mom can. While enjoying the refreshments the topic of discussion turned to comic books and I got my crushed confindence back as no one in the room knew as much about comics as I did (take that older kids!).

Afterwards the guys didn't feel like continuing the game and wanted to play touch football instead. I was eager to head home at that point.

A day or two later I saw Andrew again and he sort of apologized for his friends. I appreciated that a lot. We ended up being good friends and he showed me his copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide. I ended up converting my then current game over to Advanced D&D over the course of the next year or so, eventually getting all three volumes. AD&D was my main game after a while. I ran numerous campaigns with it, including my longest ever which lasted 3 and a half years realtime.

At the same time that AD&D fueled my passion for gaming, it would also point out and reinforce concepts that would eventually lead to my dropping D&D of any kind altogether. For a game about imagination, it seemed to be filled with limits. It was a Role Playing Game designed with playing a game in mind, not a role. I liked the role elements more then the rule elements and I still do.

Barking Alien

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